[texhax] TeX as a composition server? [originally on the pdftex list]

Paul Isambert zappathustra at free.fr
Sat Oct 23 12:02:26 CEST 2010

  Hello Peter,

I've redirected your message to texhax at tug.org, a mailing list for TeX 
that is widely frequented (the pdfTeX mailing list is not really 
active). You'll find the list archives here:

As for the questions:

1) Thousands of pages per minutes is doable, but the speed really 
depends on what you do with pdfTeX. Simply text can go really fast. 
Complex operations can take much more time.
2) pdfTeX implements the HZ-program and can do that both in dvi and pdf.
3) No. There exists complex procedures to use Open- or TrueType fonts, 
but you don't want to go into that (me neither). In pdfTeX, it's either 
tfm (TeX native font format) or PostScript T1. But: there exist XeTeX 
and LuaTeX. Both allow you to use any kind of font. XeTeX don't produce 
dvi, though -- but anyway you can't use any font with dvi.

No need to apologize, by the way.

My two cents is: if you want a top-notch typographic system, use ConTeXt 
MkIV; ConTeXt is TeX, but with many things on top of it. You generally 
don't use TeX as is: instead, you use a set of macros, often called a 
format, which perhaps you've written by yourself (in which case you're 
free /and /lonely). ConTeXt is a format, and it's probably the most 
powerful of all, at least when it comes to typography. Speed is not its 
forte, though. LaTeX is another format, it's a little bit faster, but if 
you're looking for ``InDesign composition, with suitable parameters'', I 
wouldn't recommend it. Finally, you can write your own set of macros, 
but that's definitely not the better way to start!


Le 23/10/2010 10:41, Peter Davis a écrit :
> I'm looking at the possibility of using TeX as a composition server, 
> something to compose blocks of text or pages in a high volume 
> workflow.  From what I've learned, TeX, and in particular pdfTeX, is 
> capable of producing output that's very similar to InDesign 
> composition, with suitable parameters.  So I have a few question 
> perhaps this audience can help with.
> 1) Is there any way to gauge roughly what kind of throughput I could 
> get? Could a single TeX process on a state-of-the-art Intel box, for 
> example, produce hundreds of pages per minute?  Thousands?  Tens or 
> hundreds of thousands?  (I'm assuming A4 or letter pages of just text.)
> 2) Is it only pdfTeX which uses hz-program-like composition, with 
> glyph scaling, etc.?  If so, is it possible to use pdfTeX to produce 
> .dvi (or does .dvi prohibit the use of glyph scaling)?  I'd like to be 
> able to generate bitmaps for JPEG/GIF/PNG output as well as PDF.
> 3) Will pdfTeX work with all the standard font formats?
> Apologies for my ignorance, but I'm eager to learn more.
> Thank you.
> -pd
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